woosnam survives aching back, playoff to win insperity

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  • Woosnam survives aching back, playoff to win Insperity

    THE WOODLANDS - Ian Woosnam went with what worked the last time his back hurt betweenrounds: some anti-inflammatory meds and a few sips of sake.

    On Sunday, Woosnam, with a slight bend in his less painful back, sank a 30-foot birdie putt to defeatKenny Perry and Tom Lehman on the first playoff hole to win the Insperity Invitational.

    It was the 57-year-old Welshman's first career victory on the Champions Tour.

    Woosnam closed with a 4-under-par 68 to match Perry (66) and Lehman (69) at 11-under 205.

    Big win, big payday

    He is the fourth player to win the Insperity Invitational for his first career victory along withBernhard Langer (2007), Brad Faxon (2011) and Esteban Toledo (2013). With the win, Woosnamearned $307,500 and jumped into third place in the Charles Schwab Cup point standings.

    Woosnam started the day with a birdie and picked up two more over the next five holes to move intocontention.

    "I just tried to not look at the board too much," he said. "I just tried to do the best I possibly couldand see what happened from there."

  • Perry also entered the playoff with an aching back. He finished his round about 20 minutes beforeWoosnam and Lehman, so he spent that time at the driving range. Perry said he took some Advil tokeep his back from stiffening up.

    "There's one tender spot right where I bend over where it takes me to my knees," he said. "I justbent over to pick up my putter, and it took me out. I don't know what I did. Something hit a nerve,and I fell to the ground. But I hit the ball OK. ... I hit great iron shots, drove it nice, putted it nice. Iguess I need a hurt back more often."

    Told that Woosnam also played a bad back, Perry replied: "Yeah, we're old."

    But not too old to play one more hole after a weekend of 54.

    Lehman's 3-under round included six birdies and three bogeys. Perry blazed his way into the playoffby making birdie on four of his final six holes. After Woosnam birdied No. 12, he then parred theremaining six holes.

    "I find it reasonably easy," Woosnam said of the course. "That's probably going to bite me to deathnext year. There's a couple of holes that don't suit me, and I have to try and get through those holes.But it just seems to suit my game."

    Keeping nerves in check

    Woosnam admitted he was a little nervous with the outcome on the line.

    "It might not have showed," he said. "The more you're in that situation, the more you learn to handlethat situation."

    Like when he was younger, when he won 29 European Tour titles and two PGA Tour events,including the 1991 Masters. This year's victory was his first since the Dutch Senior Open lastOctober.

  • In the back of his mind was the hope the playoff wouldn't last too many holes. Not only did he have abad back, but he also had a flight to catch.

    "Please, someone birdie, whoever it is. Birdie the first hole," Woosnam said he told himself.

    And then he did.